Written by: Victoria Broehm | July 28, 2020
Our summer issue of the AFIA Journal is out! As the editor of the biannual publication, it is always my pleasure pulling the content and design of this piece together, but this issue is much more meaningful to me for several reasons.
First, it showed the industry’s unwavering commitment to manufacturing safe, high-quality and nutritious feed and pet food in the face of growing adversity. When the first coronavirus cases began popping up in Seattle, Wash., in March, manufacturing facilities, such as Westway Feed Products, went straight to work adjusting their processes to keep employees safe and healthy, while delivering animal food to their customers. This meant interpreting guidance from federal agencies and putting action plans into place, sometimes globally, even when the conditions on the ground were changing in real-time. There are examples of this throughout the Journal, particularly within the regulatory sections and the featured article on COVID-19. Alltech’s David Lee said what many in the industry would agree on page 4:
“Although the outbreak has created unprecedented uncertainty, our colleagues, customers and communities can have complete confidence in our commitment to their well-being.”
Second, despite COVID-19 complicating life as we knew it, the industry found ways to continue its normal course of compliance with stringent U.S. food safety regulations and advocacy for sound legislation and trade policies to improve the industry’s outlook. We all recognize that the agriculture industry has changed, as has other industries, but it is this sense of persistence and dedication to the greater good that has continued. Whether that’s the “greater good” of bringing new ingredients to market that will improve animal nutrition, or supporting our farmer and rancher friends with legislative packages to keep the food supply stable, or improving our biosecurity programs to reduce animal disease threats (see page 19), there is a sense that we are “all in this together.”
Speaking of being in it together, I was overwhelmed to interview members and include many, many examples of how our members are giving back to their customers and communities throughout the Journal (starting on page 22). Many members are donating food to those in need in the communities where they operate, facilitating virtual care and adoptions of pets (see page 5) providing high-speed internet in rural areas where broadband is still an issue, or even assisting the healthcare industry directly, such as manufacturing hand sanitizer. One of my favorite quotes came from a Q&A with POET Nutrition’s Matt Reiners and Austin Broin (page 22), who said:
“Human compassion is an incredible driving force and when you combine that with a little ingenuity and a lot of hard work, it is unstoppable.”
Over 100 years old, our association, and the diverse members we represent, has stood the test of time. We know that politics, economics and consumer demand will continue to drive our future. Our members are playing an active role in shaping their destiny, from bringing lawmakers to their facilities to explain to them how animal food manufacturing works and policies that impact their abilities to do business to correcting misinformation from activists. AFIA’s 2020-21 Board chair Scott Druker, of Church & Dwight Company, Inc., said it best:
“We get to choose to view the events of the past few months as a learning opportunity or an obstacle. Put your focus on excelling at a purpose our industry holds dear: providing people with food to survive and prosper.”
Thank you to our AFIA members who are going beyond their “essential” service to their customers to serve communities across America. I am proud to be your Voice!
You can read the AFIA Journal here.